The Corner

Glen Chavez?

The Scotsman:

FORMER SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has claimed there will be a “day of reckoning” for major Scottish employers such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life after a Yes vote. Speaking from his campaign vehicle the “Margo Mobile”, Mr Sillars insisted that employers are “subverting Scotland’s democratic process” and vowed that oil giant BP would be nationalised in an independent Scotland.Earlier this week, a number of banks, including Lloyds Banking Group and RBS, said they would look to move their headquarters south of the border in the event of a Yes vote.Mr Sillars, who earlier this week claimed he and First Minister Alex Salmond had put their long-held personal differences behind them to campaign together for independence, also revealed that he would not retire from politics on 19 September but said he would be “staying in” if Scotland became independent. He claimed there is talk of a “boycott” of John Lewis, banks to be split up, and new law to force Ryder Cup sponsor Standard Life to explain to unions its reasons for moving outside Scotland.

He said: “This referendum is about power, and when we get a Yes majority, we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks….

The Yes campaign described Mr Sillars, whose rift with Mr Salmond is believed to have begun more than 20 years ago as a “passionate campaigner” but refused to endorse his manifesto.

Reassuring? Not really: Sillars has long been a man of the hard left, but he is far less of an outlier than he should be.

And then there is this from The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson (a Scot and to some nationalists, apparently, an ‘Uncle Tam’):

While distributing free Spectators in Glasgow yesterday, I came across a Labour rally and ended up standing about two metres away from Ed Miliband as he gave his speech. But no one could hear a word he said because the ‘yes’ crowd were eyeballing him, chanting and looking as if they were about to eat him. Compare this to the serenity with which Alex Salmond makes all of his speeches: where are the ‘no’ heavies shouting him down? They don’t exist: you may get the odd heckler, but the tactics deployed by the two sides are fundamentally different.

This underscores an important point, a trademark of this campaign: how the ‘yes’ side mastered mob politics…The art of ‘black ops’ has always been part of political operations. But there is more of it in Scotland, on a scale you just don’t see in general elections. The same mob behaviour has dogged Labour’s Jim Murphy (who deserves a knighthood for his tireless campaigning). He doesn’t advertise his stump speeches, and they go well for the first 20 minutes until the ‘yes’ team get wind of him, and mobilise. Then start to hurl abuse at him…This does work: you inhibit your enemy, you discourage them from going to the stumps. You need Jim Murphy’s courage and energy to do 100 stump speeches: any other Labour MP would think twice about facing down these thugs. But this is an example of the dark side of nationalism – any kind of nationalism: Salmond doesn’t dictate it, but nor can he control it.

The overwhelming mood I felt in Glasgow was one of excitement and optimism. But there is fear, too. And that’s due to  the darker fringes of the ‘yes’ campaign, who have proven that they do mob rule far better than their rivals.

And they may do so on polling day too. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Iain Martin:

For very good reasons, Britain’s political parties do not campaign on election day. By that point everyone has had their say, the rallies and the shouting must stop. Between the opening and closing of the polling stations, voters can get on with casting their vote in peace, unimpeded by noisy displays of partisan politicking. The parties are limited to being able to offer lifts to supporters and outside the polling station they are allowed a minimal presence. You will also notice that in order to comply with electoral law there is no reporting on the airwaves, or online either, beyond simple statements that voting is happening and it is “brisk”. This is entirely sensible, because it minimises any risk of rabble rousing intimidation.

…But worryingly, it has emerged that activists in the Yes campaign in the Scottish referendum are about to abandon the hard won safeguards secured by generations of British democratic reformers on both sides of the border. “Pied piper” or Braveheart marches to the polling stations are being arranged for next week.

On Radio 4 this morning, Jim Naughtie delivered a fascinating report from Glasgow Shettleston, one of the poorest constituencies in Glasgow. The Yes activists sound well-organised as they try to convince voters who have never voted before to turn out. Here was old-fashioned on the ground grassroots politics. Fair enough. But towards the end of the report the organiser from Yes explained about a Nationalist march, on the day itself, designed to sweep families along to vote.

At first I was sure he must have misspoken. Even the Yes campaign – whose brutal tactics of intimidation are coming to the fore now on the streets of Scotland – would surely not stoop to rabble rousing on the day.But no…

And it is happening elsewhere.

In Craigmillar in Edinburgh posters…have gone up informing voters of a Pied Piper rally which will wind its way to the polling station.

Martin adds:

Remember that the Pied Piper is not a happy tale. The children were hypnotised by a charlatan and ended up drowned.

If there is a silver lining to all this (and it’s a stretch to find one) it may be that it has led to a significant undercounting of ‘no’ support. This is pure speculation, but in the current climate I have to think that there might be quite a few opponents of independence out there who are unwilling to tell opinion pollsters how they really plan to vote.   


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